We all know that flying is uncomfortable: You're 40,000 feet in the air in a small seat, the person in front of you has reclined all the way back, the person next to you as decided to take their shoes and socks off, and there's seven people in line for the only bathroom.
But there's one small, inexpensive household item that's going to make your flying experience more enjoyable — a tennis ball. Because not only can flying be unpleasant, it can also be hard on your body.
Flying can cause your muscles to tighten and your feet to swell, and both can be painful, especially when you're on a long flight for several hours. That's where this handy household item comes into play.
Give yourself an in-flight massage.
All you need to do is massage your body with the tennis ball around the areas that are tight, sore, or swollen. It will release the tension in your body and make you feel much more comfortable. Work the tennis ball around — by rolling it under your feet or between your lower back and the chair, for instance — until you feel the "good" kind of pain, then decrease the pressure you're putting in that area until you feel relaxed.
Massaging your body is important for improving the blood flow in your body, says Ali Ghoz, an orthopedic surgeon from the London Orthopedic Clinic. "By taking a tennis ball or a massager on the plane, this will help increase circulation," she tells the Daily Star. "If you don't have a massager, you can use your hands to stroke your muscles from the ankles upwards, which will get the blood flowing back to your heart."
Another good way to get your blood flowing is to periodically move around the plane during the flight. In fact, getting out of your seat (as long as the "fasten seatbelt" light isn't turned on) is encouraged on longer flights due to the risk of blood clots developing in your legs. (Don't be alarmed — flying is still one of the the safest ways to travel, especially compared to driving.)
To prevent muscles from tightening or cramping, and to avoid other uncomfortable parts of flying such as constipation, make sure you're drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. Compression socks can also increase circulation. (And they can keep you a little warmer, because we all know how chilly plane cabins are.)
Although there's no way to get rid of long security lines and flight delays, packing a tennis ball can make your flight much more pleasant.
This story was originally published on First for Women